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Author Topic: Were the Fire Nation really the bad guys?  (Read 847 times)
Red Hawk
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« on: Aug 27, 2017 11:08 am »

Spinning this off from the Turf Wars thread in WSTL, because this discussion is rather off topic there. For reference.

My avatar is a baby dragon from a Doritos commercial for your information:


Anyways, you have your opinion and I have mine. The Fire Nation were not the bad guys at all, they were just loyal patriotic soldiers and your everyday citizens but whatever. Don't know about you but if my country started a war for global conquest and were dominating, pfttt I wouldn't bat an eye, good for us, and that wouldn't make me evil. It's called realisim, people seek power, people can be selfish, people die in wars, survival of the fittest. Sozin was not in the wrong, in his eyes and millions of others.

Fair enough on your avatar.

Being "loyal patriotic soldiers" and being the bad guys are not somehow mutually exclusive.  If those soldiers are still participating in unjustified killing, if they are still ruining the lives and livelihood of Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes, they are still the bad guys.  Not to mention all the Fire Nation soldiers who participated in the Air Nomad genocide.  And I would absolutely protest if my country started a war for global conquest.  The simple fact that it's my country doesn't make it right.  If you wouldn't bat an eye at your own country doing so...well, I'll just say that I strongly disagree with that attitude.  The simple fact that people can be selfish, that people die in wars, etc., doesn't justify any of that.  It's still wrong.

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I never said there weren't different races, you should read more carefully, I said there isn't much diversity besides the bending gene and exclusive eye color. Pre war Earth Kingdom was so pathetic and out of order that Chin the Conquerer almost spread his tyranny across 90% of it until Kyoshi indirectly killed him, and the Earth King at the time sucked more than Hou-Ting. The Earth Kingdom taking advantage of earth delivered mail is no type of progression. The water tribes are the lowest point in civilization until after the war, the south being easily destroyed by just a few battleships from the Fire Nation. Lol if the FN had steam power before starting the war then they also had something as simple as coolers. Their natural element allow them to understand heating and cooling more because they can well control heat... We've already seen them powering things with pure firebending and they obviously have the ability to redirect heat on such a powerful level Sozin could solidify erupting volcanoes and the capital is literally on top of an active volcano which I'm willing to bet is maintained by firebending seeing as how many lava tunnels exist underneath and is seemingly regularly used <------ So if they could maintain volcanic cities and build steam powered ships then icecream was invented long before the end days of the war

Saying there isn't much diversity is still wrong, as there are more differences between the Water Tribe peoples and the other nations.  Not to mention the clearly Indian-related ethnicity of Guru Pathik and Aiwei, or the Native Central American- related Sun Warriors

Chin the Conqueror's campaign happened decades, if not centuries, before Sozin started angling to conquer the Earth Kingdom.  So that's not a good measure of the Earth Kingdom at the time the hundred year war started -- nevermind that it really has no bearing on living conditions and technology within the Earth Kingdom.

The rest of what you say is just a non sequitur, nothing to clearly establish the relative technology level of the Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, or Water Tribes before the war, except the Fire Nation having steam power I suppose.  And the point remains that whatever those technology levels were, none of it would justify the Fire Nation forcefully invading the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes.

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I don't need any reevaluating but think what you want. I guess Loopy was right in one way, when he said it is fun to "roleplay" living in the Avatarverse and supporting the "villains". What's your opinion on Amon and his revolution?

I think that Amon genuinely saw bending as a cause of conflict and inequality in the world, but I think he was mistaken in thinking that removing bending was the solution.  Removing bending violated the bodily integrity of benders, and should not have been an option in the first place.  Plus, violently overthrowing the Republic City government was the wrong way to go about it as well.  Because of all that, he and the Equalists were the bad guys.
« Last Edit: Aug 27, 2017 11:19 am by Red Hawk » Logged
dogzee
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 27, 2017 01:03 pm »

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Fair enough on your avatar.

Being "loyal patriotic soldiers" and being the bad guys are not somehow mutually exclusive.  If those soldiers are still participating in unjustified killing, if they are still ruining the lives and livelihood of Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes, they are still the bad guys.  Not to mention all the Fire Nation soldiers who participated in the Air Nomad genocide.  And I would absolutely protest if my country started a war for global conquest.  The simple fact that it's my country doesn't make it right.  If you wouldn't bat an eye at your own country doing so...well, I'll just say that I strongly disagree with that attitude.  The simple fact that people can be selfish, that people die in wars, etc., doesn't justify any of that.  It's still wrong.
Killing the soldiers of the opposing country attempting to crush you with boulders sounds justifiable to me. I won't pretend that some soldiers were corrupt like Yon Rha or the Rough Rhinos, but they worked on their on terms with no one to keep them in check, so long as they claimed new land for the Fire Nation. Only resistance was killed so it's not like citizens were being slaughtered, when Omashu was conquered King Bumi was imprisoned, Kyoshi Warriors imprisoned, invaders of the FN during the eclipse were also imprisoned... The Fire Nation was honorable, if you stood down you weren't to be killed.

As for protesting, I don't see a point in those, and they aren't effective and just look at how countries like China handle them. Now if you were living in the Fire Nation as an average joe without super bending would you dare protest? I for one just does not care what my country does to another, if it's not hurting me, good, if it's for the greater benefit, yay. I don't have any power, authority, or really any influence over my nation, I'm just a person living in it, the decisions of the leading party is theirs solely. The lives that will potentially be lost is tragic but as horrible as it may sound it wouldn't really be effecting me.

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Saying there isn't much diversity is still wrong, as there are more differences between the Water Tribe peoples and the other nations.  Not to mention the clearly Indian-related ethnicity of Guru Pathik and Aiwei, or the Native Central American- related Sun Warriors

Chin the Conqueror's campaign happened decades, if not centuries, before Sozin started angling to conquer the Earth Kingdom.  So that's not a good measure of the Earth Kingdom at the time the hundred year war started -- nevermind that it really has no bearing on living conditions and technology within the Earth Kingdom.

The rest of what you say is just a non sequitur, nothing to clearly establish the relative technology level of the Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, or Water Tribes before the war, except the Fire Nation having steam power I suppose.  And the point remains that whatever those technology levels were, none of it would justify the Fire Nation forcefully invading the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes.
There is no difference except blue eyes and waterbending. There are natural light skinned Water Tribe people and also darker skinned Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation people so complexion isn't unique to any of the four races. Ethnicity is regional traits and culture based differences, right? There isn't really any of that either you just listed dark skinned EK people but they are found everywhere, you are water, earth, fire, or air. No such thing as fire native american and fire hawaiian, just Fire Nation, they all look the same. They can't be divided into sub groups like caucasian people who will look different by geographical origins. People like the Sun Warriors still follow ancient jungle FN tradition but there is nothing unique about their genetic make up, they have red/amber eyes and firebending like their modern successors.

Chin the Conqueror showed how divided the EK is and still was by the time of Sozin. They have multiple small scale and run down villages along with sucky leaders.

The Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom's only tech were wooden sail boats.
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AtoMaki
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 27, 2017 01:04 pm »

It is good that Amon and his Equalists were mentioned because I think they and Sozin + the Fire Nation were in the same shoes.

You see, in a similar way Amon was summed up with Tarrlok's "I know my flashback showed the exact opposite, but believe me guys, Amon thinks bending is bad." line, the only insight we have ever got for Sozin was Roku's "He had a good idea, a terrible execution, I told him to stop it, he didn't." story from The Avatar and the Firelord. We don't know why and how Amon reached his conclusions, and we had no such insight for Sozin either. Without these, I must say that it is all but impossible to determine whether they were truly evil or just misguided to an extreme.

However, the Fire Nation itself had quite a few redeeming factors, from actually accomplishing something that benefitted the world (industrial progression, technological advancements) and the "evil" in their ranks seemed to be confined and not taken as granted unless it found convenient support from another evil. An example of this is Zhao who almost got busted by that random general if not for his well-timed promotion. Similarly, Ozai's scorched earth op was not taken very seriously and was most likely greenlit because nobody could bother with talking him out of it. Though we are treading on YMMW grounds now, as some might consider imperialistic goals as "evil" from the get go (I don't).
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 28, 2017 09:42 pm »

I think the fact that neither Sozin nor Amon had the path to their conclusions shown in the story can be taken as an authorial statement that, like in real life, the path makes no sense and there's nothing either understandable or sympathetic about it.

The current Optimus Prime comic book is doing a great job of showing what it looks like when a leader/chief really does have benevolent goals, but winds up getting mired in imperfect methods, because Optimus continually steps back from escalating things past the point where his goals no longer matter. Amon didn't really have good goals because, no matter what Tarrlok said, Amon was fundamentally self-loathing and wanted little more than to destroy himself and everything that reflected what he saw as his ugliness.

Likewise, Sozin didn't really want to share anything with the world. There was a period of decades where Sozin could have tried to spread the wealth and ways of the Fire Nation through peaceful means. Roku did not advocate strict delineations between the nations, as a lot of fans want to believe so that they can play Edgelord, he was reminding Sozin of the other nations' sovereignty. They had the right to rule themselves, to decide how they wanted to live. Sozin didn't want to give them that freedom.

That's why his methods consisted of seizing a colony, and then doing nothing after Roku slapped him down. That's why when Roku died, Sozin's first act was genocide instead of, you know, asking for the Air Nomads' help in spreading medicine around the world or something like that.

When your first step is "Kill everyone who disagrees with me," then you don't really want to help anyone, because those who are being killed are the ones who are supposedly in need of your help!

Sozin was a spoiled man-child who never left home, who was stuck with a sick father and so had to be on stand-by for inheritance, and so like every manchild whose view of the world comes in through a glimpse through the window of the internet, he had no idea what the world was really like. Roku, who had been out the world and had grown up with Sozin, immediately recognized what his buddy really wanted.

See, that's difference between "imperialism" and "giving people presents." I'm fully in favor of the latter, not so much the former. History shows that the "beneficiaries" of imperialism are never grateful for it, so why force it on them?
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Spartan Kobe
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 29, 2017 12:54 am »

Without reading anything already presented in this thread, I would say yes. They committed genocide against the Airbenders(it's implied that they left no one alive except for Aang, including the babies that no doubt would've been at the air temples too. That is, unless all the babies were collateral damage and they simply shot fire at the temples from afar but you can see that they actually stormed them from Monk Gyatso's death. People severely underestimate the brutality and thoroughness required to exterminate an entire race like that). There were several innocent children at the temples too. "Just following orders" is no excuse. The soldiers showed no conscious at all when killing the innocent civilians and were portrayed as brutes. Sozin left his friend to die, and had no regrets about slaughtering millions of innocents to spread his "culture." So yes, I think the writers intended for the Fire Nation(the soldiers and leaders at least) to be complete monsters and bad guys. Remember the meeting where Zuko spoke out against using rookies as cannon fodder? Yeah...

Also remember with Katara's mother. She was completely defenseless. "I'm afraid I'm not taking prisoners today."
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2017 01:43 am by Spartan Kobe » Logged


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hmweasley
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 29, 2017 02:52 am »

It's become harder for me to definitively call anyone evil because, sure, the majority of the time there's some gray area. That being said, I'd put what the Fire Nation did as being pretty close to the dark side of the spectrum. They did slaughter an entire race except for one sole survivor. It's hard to name something more evil than that, and committing a genocide makes it really difficult to justify anything you do afterwards as good unless you show remorse for that genocide like Germany has the Holocaust. The Fire Nation never showed remorse for the genocide, and that, to me, makes it really hard not to label them as evil.

Sure, if we look at individual citizens, things get more complicated. I'd like to think there was resistance throughout the war by some, though we're never shown as much on the show except for the White Lotus (who we only see two Fire Nation members of unless I'm forgetting about someone).

The average citizen seems a-okay with the fact that their people committed genocide, and while, yes, you would expect that from people who have been told to glorify it their entire lives, it doesn't make it right. He average citizen who didn't speak out against the horrors their nation committed are partially at fault. That's the same mindset that has let real atrocities happen numerous times in the real world.

As for Sozin, Azulon, and Ozai, the fact that we're never given anything on the show that would even point to them having higher ideals that then became corrupted makes it hard for me to believe they did. Ozai, who we see the most of, definitely just seems concerned with gaining power for himself. Besides, he burnt his own son's face. I can't really see anything good in him at all. In fact, he was quite one dimensional as far as characters go. I don't think we were meant to see any good in him.
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2017 08:48 am by hmweasley » Logged
skybison
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 29, 2017 02:56 am »

Okay is this thread just a troll job?  I mean

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The Fire Nation was honorable, if you stood down you weren't to be killed.

That obviously false, there are numerous examples of the fire nation killing people who stood down.  Katara and Sokka's mother for example wasn't resisting or doing anything to threaten them.

Even if Sozin started with good intentions, is there any evidence of the fire nations tech actually going to anyone in the earth kingdom or water tribe?  I don't remember any, Earth Kingdom peasants in FN controlled areas seem to have the same tech level as they did before the war.  Heck large parts of the fire nation itself were shown as impoverished in The Painted Lady.  If Sozin meant well, he clearly failed and his successors didn't help matters.  By Ozai's time the Fire Nation's ideology is pure Master race, no mention of helping anyone else in the Greater Fire Nation co-prosperity sphere.
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As for protesting, I don't see a point in those, and they aren't effective and just look at how countries like China handle them.

Off topic but that is not true.  Non-violent resistance movements against dictatorships have a 53% success rate. http://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/IS3301_pp007-044_Stephan_Chenoweth.pdf

However, the Fire Nation itself had quite a few redeeming factors, from actually accomplishing something that benefitted the world (industrial progression, technological advancements) and the "evil" in their ranks seemed to be confined and not taken as granted unless it found convenient support from another evil. An example of this is Zhao who almost got busted by that random general if not for his well-timed promotion. Similarly, Ozai's scorched earth op was not taken very seriously and was most likely greenlit because nobody could bother with talking him out of it. Though we are treading on YMMW grounds now, as some might consider imperialistic goals as "evil" from the get go (I don't).

Doesn't the very fact that nobody could be bothered to talk him out of it make them evil?  There's a reason Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins, failing to even try to stop someone from committing mass murder because you just couldn't be asked is pretty evil stuff.

The Fire Nation started the war when they were under no threat whatsoever.  They attempted full scale genocide on three separate occasions (Air Nomads, SWT and Earth Kingdom).  They perform brutal disproportionate massacres at the slightest hint of resistance.  They imprison without trial any bender just for being benders.  Yeah most people in the fire nation were just regular people going along with a bad system, but that doesn't mean they aren't the bad guys.  By that logic the Nazi's were bad guys either.
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AtoMaki
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 29, 2017 05:23 am »

The Fire Nation started the war when they were under no threat whatsoever.  They attempted full scale genocide on three separate occasions (Air Nomads, SWT and Earth Kingdom).  They perform brutal disproportionate massacres at the slightest hint of resistance.  They imprison without trial any bender just for being benders.

These are the imperialistic goals (and means) I mentioned in my post. I mean, this kind of stuff was a big thing during the IRL Colonial Era, yet you probably can't call, say, the British Empire "evil" (unless you hooked up to the "white guilt" meme of course).
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 29, 2017 09:09 am »

These are the imperialistic goals (and means) I mentioned in my post. I mean, this kind of stuff was a big thing during the IRL Colonial Era, yet you probably can't call, say, the British Empire "evil" (unless you hooked up to the "white guilt" meme of course).

I would call colonialism (and, more importantly, the racism and exploitation it relies on to exist) evil. If you were to ask Native Americans, for example, how they felt about their homes being colonized, them being forced farther and father west onto the worst land availabe, and huge portions of their population being decimated, then they probably aren't going to describe the British Empire in the nicest of terms. What happened to Natives in North America and other parts of the world was evil in my opinion, as was the slave trade which played an important role in the British Empire.

As I said about the Fire Nation, whether each individual who lived in the British Empire or not was evil is a far more complicated question. Of course you can't say that every single British citizen back in those days was evil, but the fact remains that many of the acts carried out in the name of the British Empire were evil.

And bringing up the idea of "white guilt" is an entirely different thing because that has to do with whether or not British people should still feel guilty today for Britain's past, but we're not really discussing whether the Fire Nation people should feel guilty in the future after the series takes place but whether the FN is evil during the events of the show, while they're still at war and colonizing the world. It's a different discussion.
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2017 09:11 am by hmweasley » Logged
AtoMaki
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 29, 2017 11:32 am »

I would call colonialism (and, more importantly, the racism and exploitation it relies on to exist) evil.

Okay, trick question: do you think modern democratic/free-market capitalism is also evil? Because it relies heavily on the same racism and exploitation (with the latter turned up to 11) as colonialism, it is just not honest about it.

This is something one must keep in mind when arguing against an imperialist society: there is not a single case in human history when a society could become great without abusing and exploiting others. At which point the real determining factor whether the imperialist society could be "evil" is up to its ends rather than its means. For example, Sauron&co is evil, because all it wants is to spread destruction and mayhem; on the other hand, all the bad stuff the British Empire did ended up funding stuff like modern medicine... you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, after all. And in my opinion, the Fire Nation fits the latter rather than the former.
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 29, 2017 11:51 am »

I don't know if I want to talk to someone who doesn't think genocide is evil.

But I'll give it a shot.  Evil is a relative concept, not an absolute.  There are degrees of how evil someone is, with nobody being 100% evil or 100% good.  The Fire Nation and British Empire might not be 100% evil, but that doesn't mean they aren't say 80%.  There's good stuff too but the bad outweighs it.  

The Fire Nation as a whole is not completely evil, but the harm and suffering they inflicted vastly surpasses any good qualities they might have, and their motivations, at least by the time of Atla, are exclusively shown as bigoted and selfish.  If murdering millions of people out of greed, racism and lust for power does not make someone evil then I ask you what the heck would?

Okay, trick question: do you think modern democratic/free-market capitalism is also evil? Because it relies heavily on the same racism and exploitation (with the latter turned up to 11) as colonialism, it is just not honest about it.

No it does not.  In the 1800s the British Empire allowed a series of famines to kill roughly 27 million people in India.  For all their faults modern democracies have not committed anything similar.

If asked I would name the least evil nations today to be the Nordic social democracies.  Who exactly are they exploiting?

Quote
This is something one must keep in mind when arguing against an imperialist society: there is not a single case in human history when a society could become great without abusing and exploiting others. At which point the real determining factor whether the imperialist society could be "evil" is up to its ends rather than its means. For example, Sauron&co is evil, because all it wants is to spread destruction and mayhem; on the other hand, all the bad stuff the British Empire did ended up funding stuff like modern medicine... you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, after all. And in my opinion, the Fire Nation fits the latter rather than the former.

I heavily disagree with this.  Modern Medicine was funded by the industrial revolution and the rise of mass literacy and education.  It would have happened anyway without Britain slaughtering native Americans.  Cooperation and teamwork produce greater economic growth and scientific advances then for one to enslave others.

But to get back on topic, what evidence in the show itself do you have that the Fire Nation made an omelette?  Because I don't see any evidence of a change in standards of living until after the war was over.
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2017 12:12 pm by skybison » Logged


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AtoMaki
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 29, 2017 12:17 pm »

Evil is a relative concept, not an absolute.  There are degrees of how evil someone is, with nobody being 100% evil or 100% good.  The Fire Nation and British Empire might not be 100% evil, but that doesn't mean they aren't say 80%.  There's good stuff too but the bad outweighs it.  

This is where I say that the percentage is closer to 20% and the good stuff outweighs the bad by a long shot. The 80% would be the Third Reich who did tons of bad things and accomplished nothing good whatsoever (I give them 20% for not scrapping the Republic plans for rebuilding Germany).
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 29, 2017 12:29 pm »

^ For the Fire Nation or for Britain?

If for Britain that a case can be made for that and probably too off topic.

But for the Fire Nation I don't see any evidence of any good whatsoever coming from their actions.  Their biggest technological advances came from a captured Earth Kingdom genius who probably would have been inventing stuff without a war anyway.  Living standards in Atla don't seem to be any different then they were in Wan's time for most people, even in the fire nation itself.  I don't see any evidence the Fire Nation built anything it couldn't have otherwise or did any good for anyone.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 29, 2017 12:58 pm »

^ For the Fire Nation or for Britain?

Both. Really, the two are in the same boat.

And I dunno, but it was quite evident in the show that the Fire Nation pulled an industrial revolution that is absolutely massive. Like, I would count that alone for 60%. But again, as I said in my first post, we are on YMMW grounds here, so this can go either way.
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 29, 2017 03:49 pm »

Well I would argue that having an industrial revolution is morally irrelevant.  Morality is about whether or not you choose to help or hurt other people, just having advanced tech is neutral.

I'm no expert on this stuff but my understanding is that colonialism did not actually cause the industrial revolution.  That was the result of the printing press, mass education, and the development of the scientific method.  If Britain didn't kill 27 million Indians, the good would have happened anyway.  This is less one person does a good thing and a bad thing, it's one person does something good and another person does something evil. 

For the FN we don't know how long they've had an industrial revolution for, we only see evidence of their tech being used for military purpose, and the impression I got from The Northern Air Temple episode was they were getting their tech from The Mechanist and only using it to kill and conquer. 
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 29, 2017 04:49 pm »

I'm no expert on this stuff but my understanding is that colonialism did not actually cause the industrial revolution.

It did. The massive influx of resources from the colonies (and putting those resources into good use unlike, say, Spain) broke the back of feudalism via building up surplus and thus kicking commerce (capitalism) into an overdrive. This, in turn, allowed funding of printing press, mass education, and science. With the latter being essential to acquire more resources and build up the profit factor that could fuel further advancements. This is also the reason why the industrial revolution hit Europe and not, say, China: the former exploited and abused the new lands and their people, the latter didn't. Without colonialism, Europe would be still feudal and most likely in utter shambles (while the USA wouldn't exist at all).

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For the FN we don't know how long they've had an industrial revolution for, we only see evidence of their tech being used for military purpose, and the impression I got from The Northern Air Temple episode was they were getting their tech from The Mechanist and only using it to kill and conquer.

Sozin used a steam-powered ship to search for the Avatar in his late years, so the Fire Nation tech definitely predates the Mechanist:

The Mechanist was only responsible for the craziest FN tech, not all of them.
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 29, 2017 05:55 pm »

I don't understand who had to die to create a steam engine, or why they couldn't have been invented to facilitate travel and trade.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 29, 2017 08:23 pm »

If the Nazi's had won world war 2, and then used the resources to fund scientific advances, would that mean the holocaust was not evil?

The Fire Nation having steamships in Sozin's time proves they were evil by the standards you are using.  That means they already had industrial revolution tech before the war started and didn't need a war to get it.  And there is no evidence they used this tech for any non-military purpose. 

As for colonialism funding science, well I can't say it played no role, but I believe you are overstating it.  The Priniting Press for example was invented in the 1450s, 40 years before Columbus's voyage started the age of Colonialism. 
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 30, 2017 02:50 am »

I don't understand who had to die to create a steam engine, or why they couldn't have been invented to facilitate travel and trade.

It is the other way around. The killing is up before technology and trade. It goes like this: you go to X -> start killing the people of X and take their resources -> you use the resources to trade -> you use the money you acquire via trade to tech up -> you use your new tech to go to Y and really wreck X with the same momentum. Trade and tech retroactively justify the killing - because let's be honest here, it is hard to exploit resources without hard conquest or some sweet globalism (I assume the Fire Nation had no access to the latter).

If the Nazi's had won world war 2, and then used the resources to fund scientific advances, would that mean the holocaust was not evil?

Now, here comes the difference: the Nazis would have never done that, because they were incompetent and legit evil. If they had won World War 2, they would have collapsed within a decade or so. Any other scenarios must assume that the Nazis are not Nazis.

Also, if they had won World War 2, we wouldn't have had the Holocaust, for one reason or another, so there is that.
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 30, 2017 04:55 am »

Not all Fire Nation soldiers are evil, but the ones calling the shots are. I mean, of course the average citizen doesn't really care about the war and all, because schools shape the minds of the young. They described a genocide as an epic battle against vicious air enemies, they probably don't know anything about how crazy the military commanders are.

Between the guy who was smiling while describing youths being sent to their deaths, Zhao, Azula, Ozai and even people like Yon Rha, though, there is plenty of evil to go around. By the end of the series, Ozai deemed it fine to burn a country into the ground to deal with some rebels cells, and the fire nation soldiers with him were pretty casual about it as well.

Also, the attempted genocides on various tribes (Air Nomads and Southern Benders).
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« Reply #20 on: Aug 30, 2017 12:00 pm »

If the Nazi's had won world war 2, and then used the resources to fund scientific advances, would that mean the holocaust was not evil?

Now, here comes the difference: the Nazis would have never done that, because they were incompetent and legit evil. If they had won World War 2, they would have collapsed within a decade or so. Any other scenarios must assume that the Nazis are not Nazis.

How were the Nazi's more evil then the British Empire?  They had the same goals and the same methods.  British genocides were hardly carried out by people thinking "We murder these Native Americans and 200 years from now that money will allow for a steam engine."

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Also, if they had won World War 2, we wouldn't have had the Holocaust, for one reason or another, so there is that.

Why Not?

I'll grant functionalist approach general agree that the Nazi's didn't decide to fully exterminate the Jews until 1942, partly in reaction to military reverses on the Eastern Front, but hypothetically the war could still have been turned around at that point.  Additionally plenty of historians are not functionalists and believe the Nazi's always fully intended to exterminate the Jews.  At any rate right at the start of operation Barbarossa Hitler was outlining the Hunger Plan to deliberately starve 30 million people so their food and resources could go to Germany, so the Nazi's would have been committing Genocide anyway.

At any rate all of this is irrelevant to the Fire Nation.  The Fire Nation already had an industrial revolution going on before the war, so your defense does not work.
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« Reply #21 on: Aug 30, 2017 12:32 pm »

I think Atomaki has the right idea in general. High points of civilization have always been built on massive exploitation of peoples and natural resources. It would be highly illogical to reason that history's greatest leap forward for the human material condition the industrial revolution, to be an exception. Ethical considerations are not at all straightforward especially if one considers the high immoral costs of development along as what pertained before it. Humanity progresses through creative destruction, and bad circumstances can lead to good results.

However, little of this justifies the Fire Nation in ATLA for one main reason: the innate spirituality of the world. The natural world of ATLA was personified in part by the higher consciousness of the Spirits, and connected to humanity throught the bending arts. The Four Nations derived their identity and cultures from the four elements of nature, and each bending discipline augmented the civilization of its patron nation in ways that would otherwise have been impossible. The point is that human civilization was more dependent on harmony with nature than domination of it. The massive powers of destruction unleashed by industrial development and the Fire Nation's imperialistic wars are antithetical to this balance, and would've eventually conspired to erase whatever great civilization they were thinking about. On three occasions we were told that the war could lead to the world's self-destruction.

Another reason is that the Fire Nation occasionally carried out acts of nihilistic destruction. I said before that humanity thrives on creative destruction, but the Fire Nation started the war by wiping out the Air Nomads and attempted to conclude it by burning down the Earth Kingdom, two largely wasteful endeavors. Judging Sozin's motives precisely is hard due to the lack of contextual info, but I must say that Roku's account has two large decades-sized gaps, within which a number of things could have happened that might cast Sozin in a better light.
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« Reply #22 on: Aug 30, 2017 01:02 pm »

How were the Nazi's more evil then the British Empire?  They had the same goals and the same methods.  British genocides were hardly carried out by people thinking "We murder these Native Americans and 200 years from now that money will allow for a steam engine."

This was in fact their line of thinking, just not spelled out like that. The Brits put the seized resources to good use, like fuelling their industrial revolution. The Nazis built a useless 188 tons tank (or equivalent) or filled their own (alternatively Switz/Sweden) coffers. At this point it is worth mentioning that Von Braun and his rocket tech cult is a very complicated story as far as I'm aware of. That's the difference between a "mean but good" and an "evil" faction: the former builds something grand on the mountain of corpses they create, the latter just reduces everything into ruin.

Why Not?

The same reason we don't talk about Bomber Harris and Dresden, or the fire bombing of Tokyo: tragedies befallen to the losers are no concern for the future.

The Fire Nation already had an industrial revolution going on before the war, so your defense does not work.

The shot with the ship is in the first few decades of the war (well after Sozin's Comet), not before it.

However, I give this to you, my defense is standing on weak legs. As I mentioned in my first post, the series doesn't go into details, and it is hard to make solid evidence out of that - I'm mostly running on assumptions that might be right or totally wrong Smiley. I assume that the Fire Nation invaded for resources they needed for their growing industry (that in turn rooted in growing prosperity, and the two together quickly outstripped trade capabilities), and once they did the invasion part, they followed through and pulled some pretty crazy industrialization. If we assume that the Fire Nation invaded because Sozin had a bad day back at a certain very important war meeting (or for any other similarly petty reason), then it would, of course, change the situation significantly.
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« Reply #23 on: Aug 30, 2017 02:36 pm »

Why Not?

The same reason we don't talk about Bomber Harris and Dresden, or the fire bombing of Tokyo: tragedies befallen to the losers are no concern for the future.

... The hell are you talking about?  First that's completely besides the point, that has nothing to do with whether or not the holocaust would have physically happened.  Second, people talk about those things all the time.  Whether or not the mass bombings in world war two were morally justified is a long standing political controversy.   "tragedies befallen to the losers are no concern for the future." I don't even know where to start on how staggeringly wrong that is.  Massive swaths of or politics revolve around wrongs and injustices that happened in the past, from slavery and the modern BLM movement to colonialism in the middle east and modern Islamic terrorism. 



Quote
The shot with the ship is in the first few decades of the war (well after Sozin's Comet), not before it.

The gap between the start of colonialism and the industrial revolution was multiple centuries.  If the Fire Nation had this level of ships in a few decades that means the process had already started, and I don't see any reason they couldn't have simply sold products they made to the Earth Kingdom in exchange for natural resources.

Quote
However, I give this to you, my defense is standing on weak legs. As I mentioned in my first post, the series doesn't go into details, and it is hard to make solid evidence out of that - I'm mostly running on assumptions that might be right or totally wrong Smiley. I assume that the Fire Nation invaded for resources they needed for their growing industry (that in turn rooted in growing prosperity, and the two together quickly outstripped trade capabilities), and once they did the invasion part, they followed through and pulled some pretty crazy industrialization. If we assume that the Fire Nation invaded because Sozin had a bad day back at a certain very important war meeting (or for any other similarly petty reason), then it would, of course, change the situation significantly.

Sozin clearly committed atrocities that had nothing to do with fueling industrialization.  The genocide of the Air Nomads had no practical purpose whatsoever, since they had no resources he needed to exploit and killed people who couldn't possibly have been the Avatar or any kind of threat.

I think you're taking to much of an all or nothing approach to this.  Either everything was justified or nothing was.  Even if the fruits of industrialization outweigh the  the evils of colonialism that doesn't mean everything was justified.  Slavery for example: as far as I can tell the abolition of slavery in the British empire did not do anything to slow industrialization what information I can find from experts on short notice disputes that it was needed in the first place.

The economic history of the relationship between colonialism and industrialization is a massive and complex topic that I can barely be said to have scratched the surface of, but the first impressions of what I have read so far is that you are greatly oversimplifing things.  For example answering the question Was Colonialism in India was needed to start the industrial revolution, the person in this link says:

Quote
Well, Argentina, Egypt, and China were integrated into the European global order without formal colonisation, so my first thought is, de jure colonisation was not necessary. Also, before 1860, the British East India Company did not really interfere with traditional agriculture even though it marketed Indian cotton (raw and textiles) around the world. But after 1860, the pressure on production was greater and the British colonial administration transformed Indian cotton agriculture. It had been a supplemental crop for farmers growing staples but they were persuaded to become full-time cash producers. At the same time systems of rural credit and land deeds and so on were converted along British lines. I don’t know if that was possible without de jure colonisation and I don’t know if that would have been prerequisite to expansion of Indian output to make up for the American shortfall (in the hypothetical case of free labour).

But what ever the case be, industrialisation still would not have been prevented. By ~1820 or 1830 Britain was producing surplus textile for export and that surplus required cheap and abundant cotton. But the function of the surplus was primarily to enable Britain to import its deficit in food production. If it had to grow more of its own food it might have slowed down industrialisation but not prevented it. I think. It might have developed more like northern France, for example.

So that would indicate that the mountain of corpses made in colonial India was not needed. 
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« Reply #24 on: Aug 30, 2017 04:02 pm »

Second, people talk about those things all the time.

I dunno, but I'm not hearing a lot about them. Hell, I've met people (Americans, obviously) who didn't even know that Tokyo was bombed at all during WW2.

Sozin clearly committed atrocities that had nothing to do with fueling industrialization.  The genocide of the Air Nomads had no practical purpose whatsoever, since they had no resources he needed to exploit and killed people who couldn't possibly have been the Avatar or any kind of threat.

They had the Avatar, an asset that could have ran Sozin's plans right into the ground. It is at least questionable how else Sozin could have realistically handled that.


Also, as a side note, I don't say that slavery was good or even needed, or that the Sepoy Mutiny was a walk in the park, but I wouldn't use them as examples against colonialism. Unless you actually want to condemn capitalism and private corporations with a "colonialism is also bad" sidenote. The Opium Wars or the American Indian Wars would be better to mention here. Or the Boer Wars. Like, if you really want to show how evil colonialism could be, then look no further than the Second Broer War - there was stuff there not even the Nazis dared to implement.
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